Thursday, April 15, 2021
New Music: Afrikan Sciences takes an affecting electronic 'Journey...

New Music: Afrikan Sciences takes an affecting electronic ‘Journey into Mr. Re’

The Deepblak label honcho's latest 13-track album alerts us to how art can cut through the noise.


Eric Porter, the self-taught electronic musician who records and performs mostly under the alias of Afrikan Sciences, seems concerned with the Zen-like practice of being these days.

With his new Journey into Mr. Re, Porter returns from his last release Centered, all the more grounded in a sense of rhythm in his austere compositions, focused on the unremembered peace found in minimalism. Clocking in at an hour and change, he takes just a little edge off the top, reducing the mood and tenor throughout the 13 track.

Selections “Life Projects” and “Surrogate Sketches”¬†give¬†the intense upbeat workouts he’s known for, but these elongated pieces drone, not smack. Sparse and cavernous is¬†the preferred type of arrangement this time. “Whipping Spree” and “Belfast” attain ballast from their use of acoustic bass and piano right¬†along the synths. The effect¬†attaches gravity to the odd-time signatures Gilles Peterson and Georgia Anne¬†Muldrow have recognized Porter for.

On past efforts, our attention would be focused on where those beats are gonna land. “The two, or the four? Wait, was that the one or the three?”¬†Here, the intensity¬†is walked¬†back, a deeper foothold in the bass bin effect¬†is activated, tweaked just a bit, for fullness of the moment. “Screen Time” uses that once chaotic beat‚ÄĒthe way outliers feel making their way through this messy, complicated world‚ÄĒto alert¬†how art cuts through the noise. It Ľs the beautiful struggle amplified.

Since Oct 2018, Porter’s been self-releasing projects at a swift pace, via¬†Bandcamp, rejecting cut and dry genre distinctions. So much, in fact, his music has become a genre of its own. (Under another alias, The Camel Walk, his thunderous “Keep It Up” burns through five minutes of brimstone drums and plinking piano keys that point at some mystical ephemera swirling in the root. Even when Porter is winking, he Ľs not joking.)

Using a portal of West London broken beat, house, techno and whatever new ideas he cooks up, these dispatches on sound gather no dust. And all the while co-piloting the vanguard electronic label¬†Deepblak, Founded by¬†Aybee, aka¬†ArmonBazile, in Oakland. Porter’s compositions play on the side of eclectic energy to¬†Aybee’s¬†more or less straight on deconstruction of 4/4 music. Collaborating together or cooking apart, blood brothers in frequency, they¬†stay¬†steadfast pushing knobs and rhythms far left. Documenting all the hues Brown represents in amplified sound. Re-inventing what the center is, as they consistently move past it.

Porters been diligently building music as part of Les Graciés and WOOD // WORK Collective this past decade as well. Collaboration or not though, the focus remains pinprick sharp. Some choose Afrofuturism as a way to describe it.

He does not.

“Back in the day, we used to call forward-thinking music ‘that next shit,'” Porter stated on¬†Bandcamp¬†last year. “Then somewhere along the line many of us wanted to hone in on cultural identity as it related to progressive styles. But along the way, terminology gets bogged down and becomes a catch-all for things outside the norm, and eventually clich√©d to a point where the innovators may disassociate. Personally, I will always stay on that¬†new new, or next shit‚ÄĒthe nexus of ancient and next.”

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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